The boat manufacturing and shipbuilding industries face myriad risks in their daily operations. Because these industries can be hazardous, workplace injuries are common and may result from many factors. Boat manufacturing operations may also face risks in the form of pollution liability, property damage, and losses related to severe weather activity. While boat manufacturers insurance is designed to provide coverage for these risks, changing environmental conditions can negatively impact operations. In winter, risks can be compounded, adding to the exposure shipbuilders experience. To better protect assets and employees alike, boat manufacturing operations should consider winter-specific safety as a means of managing risks. Here’s how.

Winter-Related Risks and Hazards for Boat Manufacturers

It has long been understood that winter weather brings with it a rise in employee injuries. For shipbuilders, workplace injury claims as a result of freezing temperatures and slippery conditions can result in staggering expenses, including premium increases in boat manufacturers insurance policies. 

The most common winter-related risk in the shipbuilding workplace is that of slip-and-fall injuries. Accumulations of ice and snow in and around manufacturing facilities have the potential to cause severe injuries to employees. Snow and ice can also increase injury risks for those employees who operate machinery like cranes, forklifts, and trucks. 

Cold stress injuries are common as well, yet this risk is often overlooked in the shipbuilding industry. Because many boat manufacturing operations are conducted outdoors, even in the winter months, this class of injury puts workers at significant risk. In simple terms, cold stress injuries are those incurred by employees exposed to continual or repeated cold temperatures. Common forms of cold stress injuries include:

  • Frostbite
  • Respiratory inflammation
  • Trench foot
  • Hypothermia

In terms of pollution and property damage risks, winter poses many challenges for shipbuilders. Frozen pipelines may result in leaks of fuel or oil, potentially harming the maritime environment. Snow and ice accumulation may cause damage to vessels under construction, and has been known to cause the collapse of building roofs and support structures. Such damage can be expensive, and may even negatively impact business continuity. 

Protecting Shipbuilding Workers from Winter Hazards

Boat manufacturers insurance is the foundation on which risk management practices in the shipbuilding industry are built. This valuable insurance protection provides coverage for many risks shipbuilders face in their operations, including the risks that come with winter weather. Still, employers need to take steps to protect their workers from injury in the winter months. These risk management steps include:

  • Removing accumulations of ice and snow and salting or sanding slippery areas around the workplace. 
  • Ensuring lighting is adequate for workplace visibility, particularly in outdoor environments where snowfall may hide certain hazards.
  • Posting notices and signs warning of potential hazards, especially when severe weather is expected.

To protect workers against cold stress injuries, implementing a system of periodic indoor “warm-up” breaks can help. Providing outdoor employees with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a smart solution. Insulated coveralls, gloves, and hardhats serve to protect against both cold temperatures and falling hazards. Slip-resistant insulated boots may be beneficial for those employees expected to work outside in slippery, cold conditions. 

Inspecting and insulating vulnerable equipment like pipelines can prevent pollution spills. Removing snowfall from this equipment and from around the workplace can also reduce the instance of property damage during winter weather.

Finally, safety training and retraining programs supplement the protections afforded by boat manufacturers insurance. Winter safety training for employees has been shown to reduce workplace injuries by giving them the understanding needed to avoid hazardous conditions. Winter weather is known for its challenges, but for boat manufacturers and shipbuilders, these tips can create safer workplaces all year long.  

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.